Olympic day of politics and power on the slopes

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 18, 2014 at 9:21 pm •  Published: February 18, 2014
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SOCHI, Russia (AP) — The politics got a little hotter. The slopes got a lot slushier.

On a day when the mountain courses seemed better suited for the crawl or butterfly but posed no obstacle to Tina Maze, the Sochi Olympics took a more overt political turn.

Two members of the punk group Pussy Riot — Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina — were among nine people detained Tuesday while walking in downtown Sochi. All were later released and no charges were filed.

The two group members burst from the police station wearing trademark ski masks — one pink, one blue. Police said they were questioned about a theft at the hotel where they were staying.

Pussy Riot has become an international flashpoint for those who contend Vladimir Putin's government has exceeded its authority in dealing with an array of issues, notably human and gay rights.

"We are constantly surrounded by people ... who are shadowing us, following our every move and looking for any excuse to detain us," Tolokonnikova said after her release.

At the Olympic Park, the Russian hockey team looked plenty vulnerable in its opening hockey game in the elimination round, defeating Norway 4-0 in a game that — despite the scoreline — was anything but a rout.

No questions, however, about the Dutch speedskaters. Jorrit Bergsma won the men's 10,000 meters to lead another sweep of the medals for the Netherlands.

Seven gold medals were on offer on Day 12 and among the winners were Emil Hegle Svendsen of Norway in biathlon, Pierre Vaultier of France in snowboardcross, South Korea in short track relay and Joergen Graabak of Norway in Nordic combined.

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SKIING: Neither rain nor snow could keep Maze from her appointed rounds. The Slovenian skier captured her second gold medal of these games by winning the giant slalom. Maze was in full command, leading all the way and finishing 0.07 seconds ahead of Anna Fenninger of Austria. Defending champion Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany was the bronze medalist and teen sensation Mikaela Shiffrin of the U.S. was fifth in her Olympic debut. Last week, Maze tied for the gold medal in the downhill in glorious sunshine. On Tuesday, the sun seemed lost in the hills. Maze marked the moment in the spirit of Michael Phelps, simulating a breaststroke in the icy slop. "We are all wet, so I said, 'Why not?'" Maze said. "It's been a great day for me."

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HOCKEY: Russia is playing under immense pressure in Sochi. It did not look strong in the preliminary round, and that was the case against Norway, which hasn't won an Olympic hockey game since its home Lillehammer Games in 1994. The game was scoreless after one period and 2-0 after two. Russia got two goals from Alexander Radulov and advanced to the quarterfinals against Finland on Wednesday. Latvia, the Czech Republic and Slovenia also advanced to the quarterfinals.

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SPEEDSKATING: The podium has become a second home for the Dutch, with the walls painted orange. Bergsma set an Olympic record with his time of 12 minutes, 44.45 seconds. He was followed by Sven Kramer and Bob de Jong, sending the Dutch to their fourth podium sweep at this venue and giving them a total of 19 speedskating medals. Kramer had to settle for silver after botching certain victory in this race in Vancouver four years ago with a baffling mistake in a lane change.

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